Heartburn (1986)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  25 July 1986 (USA)
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An autobiographical look at the breakup of Ephron's marriage to Carl "All the President's Men" Bernstein that was also a best-selling novel. The Ephron character, Rachel is a food writer at... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Annie Forman (as Natalie Stern)
Karen Akers ...
Thelma Rice
Aida Linares ...
Della, Harry's Maid
Det. Andrew O'Brien
Dr. Appel


An autobiographical look at the breakup of Ephron's marriage to Carl "All the President's Men" Bernstein that was also a best-selling novel. The Ephron character, Rachel is a food writer at a New York magazine who meets Washington columnist Mark at a wedding and ends up falling in love with him despite her reservations about marriage. They buy a house, have a daughter, and Rachel thinks they are living happily ever after until she discovers that Mark is having an affair while she is waddling around with a second pregnancy. Written by Lisa Todorovich

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Two Oscar Winning Stars Combine With An Oscar Winning Director [UK Theatrical] See more »


Comedy | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

25 July 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Difícil Arte de Amar  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$20,000,000 (estimated)


$25,314,289 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


According to Patrick Nash at the 'Three Movie Buffs' website, "the couple played by Richard Masur and Stockard Channing' here are incredibly similar to the couple played by Bruno Kirby and Carrie Fisher in" source novelist and screenwriter Nora Ephron's later produced movie When Harry Met Sally... (1989). See more »


When Rachel begins a tape recording of her life with the baby, she identifies herself as "Rachel Samstat". There is no reason for her to use her maiden name, and in the rest of the movie she uses her married name. See more »


Mark Forman: My wife's name was Kimberley. One of the first Kimberleys.
Rachel Samstat: My husband had hamsters.
Mark Forman: Me too.
Rachel Samstat: Not as a grownup you didn't. He had hamsters named Arnold and Shirley. And he was always whipping up little salads for them in the Slice-O-Matic and buying them extremely small sweaters at a pet boutique in Rego Park. Also, there was a certain amount of talking in squeaky voices.
Mark Forman: Both of you?
Rachel Samstat: Well, he was Arnold... and I was Shirley.
See more »


References Carousel (1956) See more »


(When We Are Dancing) I Get Ideas
Written by Dorcas Cochran and Julio C. Sanders (as Julio Sanders)
See more »

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User Reviews

Uneven, but less manufactured than Ephron's subsequent films
12 November 1998 | by See all my reviews

Although somewhat artificial, the humor and "heartburn" of this Nora Ephron film seem more affecting and less manufactured than those in her more slick subsequent films, When Harry Met Sally... and Sleepless in Seattle. Perhaps the autobiographical slant helped.

Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson play a couple based on Ephron and Carl Bernstein. They meet, marry, settle in Washington, and have children. Streep's wedding-day jitters, it turns out, were amply justified; she discovers an affair between her husband and a social-climbing hostess.

Streep is so luminous and so natural that one may not realize until the end of the film how completely insipid and devoid of any distinguishing qualities her character is. "Rachel" changes from a wan, nervous divorcee (before meeting Nicholson's character) to an obsessively devoted wife and mother who keeps babbling about how happy she is.

Nicholson is well-cast as the rakish but (initially) endearing husband. The supporting cast reflects the expert hand of Juliet Taylor, Woody Allen's longtime casting director, who peppered it with many familiar faces, including Allen favorites Joanna Gleason, Caroline Aaron, and Karen Akers. Maureen Stapleton is particularly droll as Streep's shrink. Nineties audiences will enjoy seeing Kevin Spacey as a neurasthenic mugger.

The comedy in the film is somewhat uneven, but often extremely engaging, as in a running parody of "Masterpiece Theatre." And compare the spontaneous bravado of Nicholson's lopsided rendition of "Soliloquy" from Carousel (the comic highlight) to the forced quirkiness of Meg Ryan's tone-deaf "Surrey with the Fringe on Top" in When Harry Met Sally...

15 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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